Monday, April 29, 2013
TRULY (chapter five: "Ben")
The boy who almost never was, finally showed up and boarding school was lit with a new kind of sun. By then, I’d made friends…
Confessions of a Teenage Hermit
I met Jenny at the start of freshman year.
Jenny Covington, my new best friend, was another reluctant cheerleader and in many ways, my savior. For a previously lonely girl like me, one who’d had few acquaintances beyond her sisters, to be accepted into Jenny’s world was surprising. On paper I made the perfect foil for her outrageous antics. Plus, I introduced her to the Socials.
I was quiet, shy and mostly polite. Jenny was loud, outgoing and as pushy as she needed to be around teachers in order to get what she wanted. We both came from similar backgrounds but her family were warmer and friendlier; her family’s summer house had a different dynamic – welcoming.
Jenny discovered me hiding in a library on our first day at Hallowed Halls. I saw Jenny’s flaming red hair through the stacks before I saw the boy who had chased her there. They’d only made the school co-ed in the last few years and the older students seemed to have a kind of “fall fever” in relation to inter-school dating, which was still a novelty. Even so, Jenny and I were more interested in cheerleading than boys. Both of us had the idea that when we met “the one” we’d know it.
Jenny’s hedonism impressed me. When she joined the cheerleading team (and dragged me with her) it was obvious she grabbed life in a proactive way. Up until this point I’d been content to look on and be directed.
“Whatcha reading?” She’d asked me that day in the school library, with a swiftness that betrayed her near total lack of interest in my response.
I showed her the cover, Mexican Travel.
“Mmm... I always wanted to go to Cabo San Lucas,” she said it as if she thought she might not do this, adding, “...We should go for spring break, when we’re seniors.”
“Sure,” I nodded thinking, as if my family would ever let me do that.
“You responded quickly. I think you must want to get away from home even more than I do,” Jenny added.
I smiled, “I guess.”
“What’s your name?” she asked.
“Jane Elliot. It’s an old family name, Plain Jane.” I grimaced.
“I think it sounds regal,” Jenny said, “and you are the least plain girl I’ve ever met.”
I smiled. “Thanks. It sounds boring though… just Jane.”
“Mmm… seems to me no one is just anything. We need to get social, girl. I’m Jennifer Covington.”
“Hey, we should try out for cheerleading together.”
“Okay,” I pushed my hair off my face and Jenny noticed my wrist.
“I just adore your bracelet. Where did you get it?”
“It was my grandmother’s.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
I needed a friend like Jenny. This girl was larger than life, but in a good way.
“I have to say, this school is way better than I thought it’d be. Still, no one could blame us for wanting to get out of this place. Me? I can’t wait. I have no idea why my parents are even bothering to educate me since I’m taking a year off and heading to Los Angeles the minute I graduate. Hey, you want to come with me? I’m going to be a singer in a band…”
At the end of this speech she struck a pose that made her look like a 1960’s rock star.
“Sure,” I said, with a smile on my lips, “sounds like a great idea.”
“What do you want to do when you get out of here?”
“I guess I’ll go to college. I’d like to become a journalist or maybe a teacher. I like looking after kids.”
“Well, it seems to me you could do all of those things… A teacher is probably the most helpful but a journalist sounds more glamorous. Maybe you could report from a war zone.” Jenny said.
“Mmm,” I hesitated. Living dangerously wasn’t quite in the plan. Being resigned to the status of friend in her shadow, though, would suit me more than she knew.
“I’m going to make you over, Jane Elliot. I mean, I know the Socials have a dress code but that doesn’t mean you have to look...like this.”
“Mmm...” she pulled at the Peter Pan collar of my shirt, a season out of date according to Jenny, “I believe the polite term for your look is so yesterday.”
“But never mind. We can change all of that. We’ll go to my room after practise for a makeover. I’m awesome at making people over,” she assured me.
That sounded like a good idea, a makeover couldn’t hurt, so I was happy to oblige.
“By the way, if you’re interested in actually joining the Socials, my sister is a member and aims to be head of it,” I announced.
“No way! Are you serious? But we’re only freshman.”
“I know, but they like to train up younger sisters. I’m already in and you are too, because you’re my friend. Besides, we don’t specifically have to hang with them, just turn up for mixers, dances, help organise the bachelor auction, that kind of thing.”
“Jane Elliot, even if you weren’t a Social, I think we are destined to be the best of friends.”
I smiled as I gathered my notes and together we prepared for English class.